BARSTOW – Twenty-two years after a 25-year-old man was found shot to death in Newberry Springs, investigators have made an arrest.
Gabino Mondragon Morales, 49, of Phoenix, Ariz. has been identified as the suspect in the killing of Fidelmar Meza Garcia, who was 25 at the time of the Jan. 12, 1992 shooting just outside of Barstow. On Thursday, Morales was transported back to California.
San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Dept. homicide investigators interviewed various family, friends and witnesses surrounding Garcia’s murder. Reports stated that Garcia, a migrant worker, lived in the United States for nine months during the harvest season and in Mexico for the other three months.
On Jan. 11, 1992, investigators said that witnesses saw two armed men kidnap Garcia from his Arvin residence. The next morning, he was found shot to death in the San Bernardino County site of Newberry Springs, about 170 miles south of his Kern County residence. Despite what was termed an “exhaustive investigation,” the case went cold, said a county spokesman.
Garcia had worked in the Arvin, Calif. area picking fruit in order to support his wife and child, who remained in Mexico. On July 3, the sheriff’s cold case detectives, Jerry Davenport and Rob Trostle, reopened the case, identifying and locating numerous witnesses, which resulted in evidence identifying the suspect, Morales.
On Oct. 8, cold case detectives traveled to Phoenix, interviewed Morales and subsequently arrested and booked into Maricopa County Jail for Meza’s murder. Meza was booked into West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga on a $1 million bail. Detectives did not reveal a motive of the identity of the two people seen kidnapping Meza. The investigation is continuing.